ARE NATURAL EVILS THE EFFECT OF INEVITABLE NECESSITY?
Winchester, October 19, “Most men complain of difficulties and disappointments in life; not only the irreligious and profane, but those also who have a measure of the fear of God. The former, repine and murmur, taxing the Divine Being with his ungracious carriage towards them: the latter, supposing these evils to be inevitable, from the present constitution of things, endeavor to bear them with resignation. It cannot be denied that there are many evils which are the necessary effects of physical causes, but we cannot allow that all the evils that exist are of this kind. “If men would act according to the Divine will, few of the evils which are now so miserably felt would be known. By acting contrary to the Divine counsel, we pierce ourselves through with many sorrows, and often provoke God by our rebellion, to use that scheme of providence in opposition to us, which would have wrought together with His grace for our good, had we submitted ourselves to his directions. “Most of the diseases with which men are afflicted, are the consequence of either their indolence or intemperance, or the indulgence of disorderly passions: and a principal part of the poverty that is in the world, comes in the same way. When then we see so many suffer in consequence of their frowardness and wickedness, we must acknowledge that there are fewer inevitable evils in the world than is generally imagined and that if men would simply walk according to the directions of God’s Holy Word, they would necessarily avoid all that numerous train of evils which spring from indolence, intemperance, and disorderly passions: and their path would be like that of the rising light — shining more and more unto the perfect day. “Add to this: there are some who will be continually contriving for themselves, and will not be contented unless every thing be their own way, and according to what they suppose to be right and proper: these suffer much. There are others who take God at his word, follow Jesus whithersoever he goeth, and leave themselves and their affairs entirely to His disposal, well knowing ‘Thou canst not err;’ and ever saying, ‘We will not choose:’ these suffer little.
The former, if they get to glory, are saved as by fire, and just escape everlasting burnings. The latter mount up with wings as the eagle they walk and are not weary: they run and are not faint. They live comfortably, die triumphantly, and have an abundant entrance administered to them, into eternal glory. In the former, the whole face of the Gospel is beclouded and disfigured: in the latter it is magnified, made honorable, and recommended to all. My soul, choose thou the latter, for it is the better part.”
In the above manner Mr. C. noted down the thoughts that passed through his mind on subjects which he deemed of importance, and this mode he pursued occasionally for some years: but his religious correspondence increasing, he was accustomed to insert in his letters what otherwise would have been entered in his common-place book: and of these letters except in a very few instances, he kept no copies. Indeed he had no opinion of their excellence, and they were in general written without any kind of study, and must have been very imperfect: on which account he has often been heard to say, “I hope none of my friends will ever publish any of the letters I have written to them, after my decease. I never wrote one, in my various and long correspondence, for the public eye; and I am sure that not one of those letters would be fit for that eye unless it passed through my own revisal. “Many eminent men have had their literary reputation tarnished by this injudicious procedure of their friends. They generally gather every scrap of written paper that bears evidence of the hand of the deceased, and without reflection or discernment give to the public what was of no profit to any except to the bookseller. How much have Pope and Swift suffered from this! and perhaps no man more than the late truly apostolic man, the Rev. J. Fletcher, of Madeley. If ever his tree bore leaves, instead of fruit, it was in his religious correspondence; and these leafy productions, to the great discredit of his good sense, have been published, with a sinful cupidity, over the religious world. From this circumstance, a stranger to his person has said: ‘Were I to judge of Mr. Fletcher by his letters, and some other little matters, published by his friends since his death; I must pronounce him a well-meaning, weak enthusiast. Were I to judge of him by the works published by himself, I must pronounce him the first polemical writer this or any other age has produced: a man, mighty in the Scriptures, and full of the unction of God.’” But to return; Mr. Brackenbury shortly arriving at Southampton, they took a Jersey packet, and landed in St. Aubins’ Bay, Oct. 26, 1786: whence they walked to Mr. B.’s house in St. Hellier’s the same evening.